Trumpeter | 02243: 1/32 Douglas SBD-5/A-24B

Reviewed by Randy Bumgardner


Like it's other siblings, the SBD-1/2 and the SBD-3/4, the SBD-5 carries on the Trumpeter revolution in 1/32 scale. For background on Trumpeter's earlier release, the SBD-1/2, check out Chris's review. With each release, Trumpeter is learning from previous pitfalls and capitalizing on subjects that are sorely wanted in this scale. This kit is certainly no exception. From this boxing, the modeler can also build the A-24B - the U.S. Army version of the venerable Dauntless. I don't think any kits of that particular aircraft exist in injected form in this scale.

Also, like its siblings, this kit screams "Build ME!" When the box is first opened, 250 parts, arrayed on 14 sprues molded in gray styrene, leap out at the modeler. Trumpeter also includes their now famous little box in the big box. Inside are stashed away the more delicate things necessary to complete this aircraft - photo-etch fret, instrument film, tires, and, the focal point of most SBD builds, the dive flaps. Trumpeter seems to have finally gotten over the craving for those annoying little photo-etch hinges as the PE fret includes useful items such as gunsights, seat harnesses, and other bits for the cockpit.

The cockpit is a work of art with amazing detail. I lost count after seventy parts - and there's more that I missed. The sprue shots below don't do justice to what's contained in the box. The molded sidewall detail is basic - stringers, etc. However, the detail lies in what you have to glue into each fuselage half. Trumpeter has done an admirable job of moding very fine details on their cockpit parts. Knobs, switch and the like will really pop out after a good wash and drybrushing.

And the cockpit isn't the only well detailed part in the kit. The shot below show the excellent molded detail in the center section of the lower wing.

And... since you can build two different versions of the airplane, Trumpeter thoughtfully includes two different types of tires. The circumferential treaded main tires with the solid rubber tail wheel found on the naval versions, and the block treaded tires with the big and bouncy tail wheel found on the Army A-24's. Just like the Chevron commercial says, "People care..."

"Just the flaps, Ma'am."

The balance of the kit is very similar to it's brethren. The clear parts are very thin and well detailed - something that I think Trumpeter got right since the beginning. The engine is very well detailed and will be hidden once the fuselage halves are mated. Although, add just a bit of wiring - to the ignition harness, for instance - and it will go a very long way. But, as I mentioned above, the real focal point of a Dauntless is the dive flaps.

Trumpeter, in a moment of thoughtful foresight, put the ever so important dive flaps in the little box to protect them from the burly package handling personnel who would rather throw the box onto the truck than place it ever so gently. The dive flaps show exquisite detail and all the holes are there! I didn't count them, I tried but lost count again... Nevertheless, there is no flash or any other debris - and the much maligned rivet detail is also present amongst the holes. The Trumpeter mold-makers are learning their trade very well.

The one thing I didn't find, the one thing that usually plagues Trumpeter's kit, is the dreaded ejection pin mark. Oh, I did find plenty of them - but not on the detail parts, none on the detail everyone will be looking at. The inside of the fuselage had none. Neither did the landing gear covers. Surely, I thought I'll find some on the dive flaps... Nope. Nada, on either side. Bravo, Trumpeter.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly...

Every kit has it. That one thing. The ugly little detail that makes a perfect kit an almost perfect kit. In this kit it's the decals. They just look plain wrong. The first thing you notice is the color. It's not insignia blue, not quite. It's more of a royal blue... I think. And the stars are the wrong size. They are simply too small.

Other than that, the decals seem alright. They are not overly thick, and, if my P-40 decals are an indicator, they should lay down just fine. But that color... The stencils are usable, as are the unit and plane numbers. It's just those insignias...

Some aftermarket decals would definitely help.

My Final Thoughts

With the exception of the decals, Trumpeter has definitely hit a home run with it's Dauntless lineup - and the SBD-5 is no exception. The detail is exceptional, the subject is one that has been needed for some time, and some good, solid design work is engineered into this kit. This kit good enough on it's own without any aftermarket accessories. But, I hear many of you saying, is it worth the price tag?. I think so.

Thanks to Stevens International for the review sample.

© Randy Bumgardner 2006

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016